Forbes: Imperative Messages From The World Food Programme’s Nobel Peace Prize: Remembering Frank Shefrin’s Role
Hersh Shefrin [BSc(Hons)/70] is a widely known behaviour economist and received a University of Manitoba Distinguished Alumni Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2019. In this article in Forbes, he reviews the history of the World Food Programme and how it got its start with the help of a 1934 grad from the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences.
The Nobel prize committee sent the world a series of imperative messages last Friday when it announced that the United Nations’ World Food Programme (UN’s WFP) will be the recipient of the 2020 Nobel Peace prize.
The strongest message from the Nobel committee is that using starvation as a weapon of war is cruel, inhumane, and immoral; and they are telling us that starvation has been getting worse of late, not better. The committee noted with concern that in recent years, conditions had begun to take a turn for the worse, and that last year “135 million people suffered from acute hunger, the highest number in many years. Most of the increase was caused by war and armed conflict.”
Peace does not get handed to humans on a platter. The paradox is that we have to fight for peace. The WFP is a success story in this regard, and for this reason it is worthwhile to review the history of how the WFP came into existence.
According to the UN’s WFP website, the WFP was created in 1961 at the behest of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower as an experiment to test the feasibility of providing food aid through the UN.
While true, this description masks the vision, effort, and skill of the people who conceived the idea and worked to make it first a reality, and then a success. As it happens, one of those people was my uncle, the late Frank Shefrin, who retired in 1978 from his position as chair of Canada’s Interdepartmental Committee on the WFP.